Thailand declares state of emergency after student-led anti-government protest

Thailand on Thursday declared a state of emergency in its capital of Bangkok after tens of thousands of people gathered to protest the country’s monarchy rule. 

The Associated Press reported that police made 22 arrests at demonstrations Wednesday as they cleared out crowds that had gathered outside of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s office to push their demands, including the former general’s resignation, constitutional changes and reform of the monarchy.

Multiple top protest leaders were taken into custody, with one writing on Facebook later that he was being transported to a northern city and was denied access to a lawyer, according to the AP. 


The government’s emergency order stated it was necessary because “certain groups of perpetrators intended to instigate an untoward incident and movement in the Bangkok area by way of various methods and via different channels, including causing obstruction to the royal motorcade,” according to the AP. 

Despite the new ban on gatherings of five or more people, thousands of people gathered in another area of the city to continue their demonstrations Thursday. 

“Like dogs cornered, we are fighting till our deaths,” Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, one the high-profile protest leaders, told the crowd Thursday, according to Reuters. “We won’t fall back. We won’t run away. We won’t go anywhere.” 

In response to Thursday’s protests, police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen told Reuters, “the people who came know that there is a ban against public gathering of five or more,” adding that authorities will “take things step by step.” 

Wednesday’s demonstrators, who gathered on the anniversary of a 1973 student-led uprising against a military dictatorship, faced clashes with royalist counter protesters who aimed to show support for the government and to greet the royal family as they traveled to and from a religious ceremony in the area.

As a royal motorcade attempted to travel through, protestors shouted and gestured within feet of the motorcade, defying normal practices of sitting on the ground or prostrating as a royal motorcade passes. 


King Maha Vajiralongkorn and other key members of the royal family have traditionally been protected by a law that guarantees up to 15 years in prison for those who insult the monarchy. 

Reuters noted that while the majority of protests held in the country over the past three months have been peaceful, police pushed protestors away from a motorcade carrying Queen Suthida in one incident. 

Thursday’s order comes in addition to a state of emergency declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to Thailand’s Department of Disease Control, there were 3,665 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 463,979 infections.